There's a ton of talk and action about online ordering these days, hailed as the next great thing for the restaurant business. Who stands to benefit the most? And what about casual (drop-off) catering? Is there more to the customer experience than just a user-friendly online ordering web page? What does it mean to the operations side of the business?

Tags: casual, catering, dining, drop-off, online, ordering

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Hi, Jeff
I think I can share some useful information. Benefits of online ordering integration are quite evident, I think. As the service is all about to bring convenience both to restaurant owners and customers, online ordering is a great advantage and effective revenue stream. Still, online ordering should operate with no harm to catering, sure. For example, let's see how Smarter Takeout online ordering solution solves this problem. As the solution is simply integrated into POS it doesn't require any complementary staff and, on the contrary, guarantees labor saving and better staff productivity. The data from the web form goes straight to the printer in the kitchen after the payment is done. All the process doesn't take time from your staff allowing to spend more time for catering.

Talking about customers' use experience its necessary to outline the following:
- Customers easily find and select restaurant location
- Customers choose preferred order pick-up times for future orders
- Order history allows customers to select from the past orders stored in the system
- Integration with google maps allows customers to have driving directions printed or emailed with order recipe

Whether you set up a new web-site specially for online ordering service or use your current web-site, you can turn it into effective promotion tool where you can submit menus, nutrition info, specials, working hours, collect information on your customers and conduct email marketing campaigns, etc.

For more information please visit http://www.smartertakeout.com/reasons-to-be-online_cp.aspx
Hi Jeff,

You brought up some great questions about online ordering. From my experience, almost all restaurants can easily integrate online ordering into their operations. Our online ordering system, MenuDrive, is currently being used by restaurants of all sizes from an ice cream stand and dairy store up to a regional pizza chain. However, regarding your first question of "Who stands to benefit the most?" I find those carryout restaurants whose models focus on quick service/fast casual experience the best results with online ordering. Yet, in general, the restaurants who will benefit the most will ultimately be those restaurants who are actively marketing this tool. I've ran into several restaurants who have online ordering with other providers, but are neglecting to inform their customers about it and are thus receiving weak results. On the contrary, we have customers who are continually promoting their site through grass-root marketing tactics, and email marketing and mobile marketing programs and are receiving the benefits of online ordering (i.e. an increase in sales tickets and customer order frequency).

Customers ordering catering really enjoy using online ordering, especially those ordering for business catering. Administrative assistants find online ordering time-saving and reliable. Online ordering allows them to track order receipts, while streamlining the billing process. Plus, since they're ordering for important functions, they like the assurance that their order will be accurately received, which is the case with online ordering.

Online ordering is more than just a user-friendly online ordering web page. It is an effective customer loyalty/retention tool that can help restaurants increase sales and increase operational efficiency. Most online ordering systems have built-in cross-sell and up-sell features (Ex. click on an item and choose extra sides or toppings), which contributes to typically increasing an online sales ticket by 20% vs. phone orders (since employees don't always try to up-sell a customer over the phone). In addition, online orders can be received electronically through POS or Fax within seconds vs. spending minutes taking a phone order with a customer. One of our pizza restaurants originally installed three phone lines to fulfill carryout orders and its employees were spending around 2-5 minutes on the phone taking orders. After implementing our online ordering software, they not only boosted carryout order-taking efficiency, but also raised employee morale – that says a lot than just being a user-friendly webpage.

For more information, check out some of our case studies at www.menudrive.com
I have seen just about all of the online ordering systems out there on the market. Some are really good for certain concepts, while being very bad for others. Example: One is great for Pizzas, but awful for Hamburgers. Without turning this into a plug for my company - I would just like to ad that I'm sure all of us online ordering companies were excited to see Chili's first television advertisement this week promoting their online ordering system! I think this will do wonders for the industry and help increase the awareness of these solutions to patrons.

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